Planning O-Week

Hi again friends!  Lovely to see more of you joining us every day!  Follow us to get reminders of when the blogs get published.

With second-round offers concluding enrolment this week, now is the ideal time to turn our thoughts to O-Week. Orientation is the traditional prelude to university, designed to give you an overview of the campus and the university, classes and life as a student – and that includes the social festivities too!

This week’s blog will cover the main things to do during La Trobe’s O-Week: meet new people, tour the campus, familiarise enough things to settle your anxieties, and get to know what services and facilities we have to offer – before you need them. Do try to attend all three days; not only is it fun and free, you can also learn a lot about being a university student, about life at LTU and what La Trobe expects from its students.  International students will benefit from additional orientation events next week, beginning the 18th, where they can enjoy activities and information tailored just for them.

Recall in my first blog, that not all universities do this… well – so get as much out of your O-Week as you can.

A good start is to read the O-Week schedule for your campus and work out what events you need/want to attend. Generally speaking the faculty welcome, undergraduate info session (which is specific to your degree) and the tour with your Connect Mentor are must-dos. Everything else is highly recommended but specific to you, your interests and your circumstances. Knowing what you want to attend ahead of time will help you figure out what days and times to attend and if you will have any gaps to fill with a drink at the Eagle Bar or Agora in between. Check your enrolment pack for your orientation schedule and make sure you bring it on the day to refer to your map J

Secondly, next week look out for the introductory email from your Connect Mentor. S/he will be taking you on your campus tour on the Tuesday of orientation – the 26th February. Remember the number you are assigned, because you will need to find that number at the meeting point in order to meet your Mentor. Make sure you check your map for the location of your faculty’s meeting point ahead of time.

If you’ve been following my tips thus far, O-Week should be a breeze. I do highly recommend coming to all the days. Below are just some of the reasons why, not least to get to know campus and the key people who will help shape your university career and lifestyle, and to cut out much of the guesswork later. Just make sure you allow plenty of time on the first day to get to your first destination. Last year one student missed several key events because she spent over an hour searching for a carpark!

At the faculty session, you will first meet the Dean of your faculty (the head person), who typically gives an inspiring speech – I don’t recall my La Trobe Dean, but I do remember the one from my first (mistaken attempt of a) degree, which was Early Childhood Education.  This wise man stood before us on the stage saying, “In your career, you cannot fail to underestimate the importance and value you hold.  People everywhere will be handing you their most precious possessions, their children, more valuable to them than any material object, and it will be your responsibility, along with a carefully selected team over the years, to influence these children and shape them into the people they will be in future.”  I mean come on! Seventeen years old, I don’t think I ever could have been more intimated and scared of growing up if I tried. Pay attention to your Dean and see if they come up with something equally powerful and bone-trembling.  Then be sure to comment below and tell me what they said 🙂

At least after that you will be divided into your degree groups and sent you off to your more low-key, specific info sessions. Here, not only do you get to meet your degree’s convenor/coordinator and find out information specific to your degree, there’s also a student from either second or third year present to give you an advanced perspective and answer your questions. It’s also the first place you will be able to meet the other students who will share your core classes and are most likely to become your friends, so make an effort to introduce yourself and remember some of their names.

Tour time for some is first stop of the day and following the degree info session for others. Head to your faculty’s meeting point and look out for the number you were assigned, to reach your specific Connect Mentor. If you are assigned a mentor on the day for some reason – make sure you give them your email so they can continue contact with you. Connect Mentors are there to help you get used to uni. You can ask them all your questions and if they can’t answer you themselves they will show you how to access the right answer. Your Mentor will be doing the same or a similar degree as you, so they are perfect for giving you tips on making uni work for you. They will also take you on a campus tour specific to your degree, so you avoid viewing buildings that you don’t need to. The group you are assigned will also be your first friends on campus and many of them will be feeling as daunted or alone as you so say hi and have a chat over the free bbq at the end of the tour. Your Connect Mentor will continue to send you emails and may try to catch up with you either on facebook or on campus or some other way over the first six weeks of classes, so make the most of them and ask any questions you may have.

Following that, there are useful lectures and seminars to attend that are best picked according to your needs and interests. I recommend going to the Getting Ready to Study seminar series, great for mature age and gap year students but equally useful for high school leavers because of the way uni is different to school. They are designed to overview how to study at La Trobe so definitely are worth a look, particularly to settle any apprehensions ahead of class time. Other seminars are worth catching too – I went to nearly all of them just to find out as much as I could. Of course, they are all subject to your own needs, ie finding accommodation, budgeting, volunteering or looking for work. Do plan ahead and check them out. I did, and I felt so much more confident as a result.

Naturally there are a ton of social events thrown in as well.

Did you talk to our sports centre folks at enrolment? We have a gym, pool, yoga centre, studio, and a large number of indoor and outdoor courts and fields available for your leisure, and on top of that many sports clubs linked to the centre. Did you know Melbourne Heart trains here? Find out all about the Sports Centre during the Orientation bbq on Wednesday.

The Clubs and Societies bbq then runs on Thursday. Here you can meet people aligned with your own personal interests and sign up to groups. There are dozens of them, from the degree-related ones to political interests, language groups and then ones that don’t test your brain quite so much 🙂 . Many clubs use a facebook site for membership, search them by club name. Oh and get used to their free lunches. Particularly on Wednesdays in the Ag throughout semester, various clubs and societies will fundraise or offer free lunches or breakfasts to bring your attention to them. Keep your eye out. Meeting people with similar interests is a great way to make friends here at university and have some fun to balance with the study.

Of course make sure you stop by the library entrance on Wednesday to meet the faculty librarians – they are specifically trained to know the best resources for your area. You can also check out the library online or participate in a library class like ‘2013 Orientation’ to help you get accustomed to it. This year there is also a Library Trail tour from an app on your smartphone. Check out all you need to know here.

Transport is something you really want to sort out early, as you will need to organise your concession card if you are taking public transport and the parking permit queue is enormous during O-Week and the first week of term.

Remember to swing by the Student Hub to get your public transport concession form stamped. My enrolment blog provided further details about it, but suffice to say you need the form (from a train station) and two passport photos before you can get it stamped by Student Hub. Do it annually, you will save every time you ride PT.

Tram 86 on Plenty Road and the 340 bus are the best ways to get directly to the city in 50mins. The Macleod train station nearby runs on the Hurstbridge line, but you need to take a connecting bus (561) to uni or get lost in the back streets behind the uni. The bus routes are fabulous, although they go every half hour (boo) they travel to a very wide range of areas across Melbourne. The tram stop is on the corner of Plenty Road and Kingsbury Drive (10 min walk – allow for that come semester time to get to your classes). The bus hub is located beside the Medical Centre right by the trams, but they have closer stops between Student Hub and Health Sciences, and at that big roundabout by David Myers building. Here you can also top up your myki. There are buses servicing the city, Elsternwick, Port Melbourne, Northland, just to name a few, and over the bridge by Union Building there are buses to Kew and Ivanhoe. Regardless of where you live, it’s worth checking out, just in case.

As for parking, if the queue for the permit isn’t bad enough, prepare yourselves for torture getting a park after 10am.  Carpark 8 for us in HUSS is horrible.  I try not to drive if I can help it. For my 10am class last year I would steal away to a corner at the back of Carpark 7 on the east side (closer to carpark 6) and I could usually find a spot, but for my 1pm class I could only do laps until I found an empty spot.  It’s the same all around campus.  Do allow plenty of time (20-30mins) if you are arriving after 10-11am.  Except on Fridays. Only the dedicated and the unlucky have classes or choose to study on campus on Fridays.

I’ll leave it there for now.  Next week I’ll touch on some of the other things you will want to think about during O-Week, like familiarising yourself with your campus, locating your classrooms before the first week rush, sorting out a Union membership (if that suits) and getting to know the services La Trobe has to offer.

Have a fabulous week and a happy Valentine’s day to all you soppy romantics and lovers of Hallmark. May the countdown to O-Week begin! 14 days and counting!

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